Odegaard: Five reasons why he's struggled at Real Madrid so far
The 18-year-old Norwegian starlet has joined SC Heerenveen on loan in search of the first-team football he can't get at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Martin Odegaard on Tuesday completed an 18-month loan switch to Dutch side SC Heerenveen, the Norwegian making the move to the Eredivisie to gain first-team experience after two years playing for Castilla, the LaLiga club's reserves.
The 18-year-old attacking midfielder is yet to truly take off since arriving in Madrid in January 2015 - and here are five reasons why he's underwhelmed...
1. The consequences of his huge salary
It's not his fault: Real made him an eye-watering offer to beat off competition for his signature from German giants Bayern Munich. However, his whopping pay packet of 3.5 million euros a year before tax caused resentment among his colleagues in the Castilla side even before he had set foot in the Spanish capital.
His star billing right from the off, coupled with the big money he's on, brought him the status of nigh-on obligatory pick - one that hasn't done his displays any favours and has generated more than a little tension in the Castilla dressing room.
2. Seeing playing for Castilla as a drag
Neither Odegaard, who came to Spain having made his senior Norway debut, nor his father, Hans-Erik, have ever been overly enthused by Real's second team, or the pitches they play on in Segunda División B, the country's regionalised third tier.
Odegaard signed for Madrid with a clause in his contract demanding he train daily with Los Merengues' first team (and be included in their pre-season preparations), with the youngster only dropping down to Castilla for actual matches.
There was certainly no immediate chemistry with his team-mates. Then-reserves coach Zinedine Zidane even fired him a warning by consigning him to the bench, and his attitude improved - but he's always had one eye on the seniors.
3. A failure to grab his first-team chances
Ex-Real Madrid boss Rafa Benítez had to take Odegaard on the summer tour of Australia and China in 2015, giving the Norwegian 45 minutes in their opening friendly against AS Roma to keep president Florentino Pérez happy. He didn't use him again except in a fixture in Oslo against Valerenga, a money-spinner organised by the club to take advantage of the 'Odegaard effect' in Norway.
A year later, he was also included as Real travelled to Canada and the USA, but failed to impress in the manner that Mariano Díaz and Marcos Llorente managed to.
4. An alarming lack of goals
In his first year in the Norwegian top flight (and at the age of just 15) he netted five goals for modest club Stromsgodset. In 62 games for Castilla in Segunda B, he has scored the same amount. Last term, for example, he was only on target once in 38 appearances and even brought up 12 months without a goal. He provides assists and conjures up some moments of exquisite skill, but a footballer of his talent must be a much more dominant figure at that level of the Spanish league pyramid.
5. Not playing in his preferred position
Odegaard's role in the Castilla side has proved problematic for his coaches. He's a number ten, but Zidane preferred his son Enzo in that position, Luis Miguel Ramis went with Aleix Febas and Santiago Solari has also gone with other options. The result is that Odegaard has been shifted out wide more than he would have liked.
Operating away from his preferred role, his technical quality, vision and ability to deliver the killer pass have not come to the fore - and in many games he has failed to hide his frustration. He hasn't followed the example set to him by first-teamers such as Isco, James Rodríguez and Marco Asensio, who are fighting tooth and nail to adapt to other positions. Which, at a club where competition for places is as high as anywhere in the world, just won't do.
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